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  1. #31
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    The 1941 letter refers to testing and analysis of the product with the conclusion Jack Daniel's is not bourbon or rye whiskey. To me, this implies the agency found something in the product which disqualified it from being bourbon or rye. If the regulations defining the types of whiskey were the same in 1941 as now, and if something that is legally bourbon must be so styled on the label, this must mean there is something in Jack Daniels that does not conform to the definition of bourbon and rye. I theorise this could be extracts from the combusted maple wood the white dog spends some days (not just a few hours) leaching through. Perhaps residual maple sap enters the product. True, saps might come in to bourbon from charred oak containers but the regulations allow, indeed require, aging in new oak wood containers. I think a reasonable interpretation would encompass a subsequent filtration through oak-derived charcoal (for any bourbons which undergo that treatment). A neutral filter (the pad type decribed recently for filtering Four Roses Single Barrel, and possibly any deactivated charcoal) obviously adds nothing to the spirit and is neither here nor there in terms of flavor.

    Now, if a whiskey to which maple wood derivatives are added must be redesignated, perhaps the very word, "Tennessee", supplies this need. Tennessee would mean, not (or not only) where the whiskey is made, but the style of whiskey it is (that which undergoes a preliminary maple wood charcoal leaching). On the other hand, perhaps Stewart Berkshire was saying in a polite governmental way that he tasted Jack (not chemically analysed it) and it doesn't taste like any bourbon he knows, hence it's distinctive. But if he was not referring to taste, or only to taste, but rather to what came out of the agency's physical analysis, what was it that made him think it wasn't bourbon or rye? I cannot think of anything other than maple wood derivatives. I note George Dickel's whiskey also states, "Tennessee" on the label; it too undergoes the maple charcoal leaching, so a similar logic might apply here too..

    In sum, it seems to me either something must be "added" to these whiskeys (I surmise, maple wood extracts) to take them out of the definition of bourbon and rye or they ARE legally bourbon yet are not required so to state on the label. The latter possibility seems ruled out however by the regulation referred to earlier in the thread requiring that a defined whiskey type must be declared (on the bottle) by the maker. Unless, possibly, the rules mean it is sufficient to use the name of a set (whiskey) and not the subset (bourbon) to style the product.

    I have not reviewed the regs in full but offer these thoughts after reading the last few posts.

    Gary


  2. #32
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    From Mark Waymack's and James Harris', "The Book of Classic American Whiskeys" (published 1995):

    "As dramatic a spectacle as the firing is [of split maple logs at Jack Daniels], it is not a complete process of combustion. Some of the sugars in the wood remain in the charcoal and are partly reponsible for the distinctive flavor of the Jack Daniel's products".

    Gary

  3. #33
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    I didn't jump on this bandwagon "earlier"---cause it's a never-ending circle.

    I will make one more reply and let the rest of ya hammer on I do enjoy reading this stuff...and usually learn alot from everyone's opinions...

    I made my information known to let folks know what has been said in the inner circle.

    Before "both" filterings It has met all the legal requirements to be called Sour Mash Bourbon.

    Hmmmmmmmm...Both (JD & Other famous Bourbon's) proceed with their filterings...Then...one becomes a bourbon and the other not a bourbon?

    Jack Daniels, states that it is "NOT BOURBON". It's Tennessee Whiskey

    It's their trademark

    Hmmmmmmmm...Maybe the question should have started out as...Is Jack Daniels "technically" Bourbon?

    I'm done

    Bettye Jo

  4. #34
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    I think there are two questions Bettye Jo:

    (i) is JD technically (under legal definition) a bourbon? You are saying it is, but I am wondering if the JD method of leaching may mean it isn't one;

    (ii) assuming you are right that it is technically a bourbon, why doesn't the company have to say it is a bourbon on the label?

    Gary

  5. #35
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    To me, the question is whether or not JD's 'filtering' is merely that, or is an additive process. I would argue that it is and additive process, since you ultimately end up with more in the whiskey than before the 'filtering', both in color and flavor.

  6. #36
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    Filtering vs Mellowing
    I believe that filtering, by definition, does not add, but is intended to remove something. Most bourbons are chill filtered. No question this does not disqualify them as bourbon. Mellowing, on the other hand, is nebulous enough to indicate that something might be added or changed and borders in that gray area of additive/modification.
    For my purposes, the mellowing changes the product and its not bourbon, and I don't really need it to be bourbon. I think that Brown-Forman is pompous enough to NOT WANT TO BE BOURBON, but be unique as a Tennessee Whiskey to differentiate it in the market. Are there more bourbons or TN whiskeys? Do JD drinkers perceive that as a plus. I think so. So technical definitions aside, $ prevail.

  7. #37
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    > (ii) assuming you are right that it is technically a bourbon, why doesn't the
    > company have to say it is a bourbon on the label?

    Just because you can doesn't mean that you have to. Not all straight bourbons
    use the word straight... they can, if they wanted to, but they don't choose to.
    Similarly, my reading of the regulations is that all bourbons could be bottled
    as, e.g. Jim Beam Whiskey, Wild Turkey Whiskey, Elijah Craig Whiskey, etc.
    since they are whiskies.

    Tim Dellinger

  8. #38
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    But that is the question, does the product, if a "bourbon", have to be called that on the label? That is a legal question. The answer is yes, no, or maybe, it has to be one of those three, but I am not sure which it is. Brown-Forman would know, of course. If the answer is maybe (i.e. the issue is a gray area), effectively the answer is no if Brown-Forman does not wish to use the term on the label.

    Gary


  9. #39
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    The first part of his statement is true. Complete combustion would leave ash, not charcoal. As for the second part, I guess one of our scientists needs to tell us: "what is charcoal?" One could easily argue that nothing happens in the leaching process that doesn't happen in the barrel when the whiskey interfaces with the barrel char. The only difference is that the charcoal is maple while the barrel is oak.

  10. #40
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    Re: The Lincoln county process

    The answer is yes, no, or maybe, it has to be one of those three, but I am not sure which it is.
    The answer truly is "maybe," because it really hasn't been put to the test. Remember, the 1941 letter, which is the only legally relevant decision that has been made on the subject, is not absolutely dispositive of the central question. It was sought by Motlow so he could say that the federal government acknowledged Tennessee Whiskey as a distinctive style. He did not ask for, nor does the letter say, that if Jack Daniel's--as currently made--applied for permission to call itself "bourbon" on the label, that request would be denied. The only way to answer this question definitively would be for a Tennessee Whiskey using the Lincoln Country Process and otherwise complying with all the requirements for bourbon, as Jack Daniel's does, to apply for permission to call itself "bourbon."

    Besides, in law, isn't the right answer for a hypothetical almost always "maybe"?

    There is an intra-industry political side to all this too. In earlier days, and even in 1941, "bourbon" was not the end-all and be-all it sometimes appears to be today. A lot more straight rye was sold then, for example. Anyway, one giant producer--Jim Beam--decided to be a bourbon company and invest a lot in equating "bourbon" with "quality." At the same time another giant producer--Brown-Forman--went the other way, not against bourbon, but promoting brands (Jack Daniel's, Early Times) instead of a type.

 

 

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